Many people have argued over the last few years whether or not Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard is still the best at his position. Some will argue Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez or others have surpassed him.
When Howard was with the Orlando Magic, he developed into one of the most dominant players in the NBA. Offensively, his strength and athleticism caused problems for opponents despite his limited post moves. Defensively, he was a game-changer with his shot-blocking ability. In case you forgot, he was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and Howard has always been an excellent rebounder as well.
In recent years, Howard has dealt with severe back issues along with a couple of changes in teams. Following a one-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard has re-established himself as one of the most dominant players in the NBA. For the season, he is averaging 18.9 points per game, 12.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks along with 58.7 percent shooting. He is one of the leaders along with James Harden and coach Kevin McHale of the 39-19 Rockets.
When comparing his statistics with other centers, Howard compares favorably in just about every category.
The only two centers averaging more points per game are DeMarcus Cousins and Al Jefferson. Cousins is putting up 22.3, while Jefferson is putting up 20.5.
As far as field goal percentage is concerned, Howard ranks third at his position. DeAndre Jordan leads centers with a field goal percentage of 66.9 percent and Andre Drummond is second at 61.2 percent.
One area that Howard has never improved in is free-throw shooting. This season he is shooting just 54.4 percent from the line on 9.5 attempts per contest. However, Drummond and Jordan are each worse as both players shoot in the 40 percent range.
On the defensive side, Howard is sixth among centers in steals per game with 0.9. The players ahead of him are Cousins, Drummond, Noah, Jordan and Andray Blatche. Howard ranks fifth in blocks per game with 1.9. Hibbert, Jordan, John Henson and Andrew Bogut are the only players in front of Howard.
Since Howard has entered the league, not many centers have averaged more rebounds per game than him. This season there are only two. Jordan leads all centers with 14.0 boards per game. Drummond comes in at second with 12.8 boards. With 12.5 rebounds per game, Howard comes in at third.
Despite his free-throw shooting woes, Howard is a highly efficient player. He ranks third in layer efficiency rating with a PER of 22.1, behind only Cousins at 25.7 and Drummond at 22.4. Lopez and Al Horford would also rank above Howard, but they are both out for the season.
Some of the criticism that Howard has received in recent years is debatable whether or not it is justified. However, it is hard to argue that Howard is not at least one of the best at his position if not the best.
He impacts both sides of the floor in a way that few players can.